Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Can Mfrs. Inst., Inc. v. State

Citation: 9 ELR 20744
No. No. 48349, 289 N.W.2d 416/13 ERC 1689/(Minn., 09/07/1979)

The Minnesota Supreme Court affirms the judgment of the trial court that the Minnesota Package Review Act does not violate the Commerce Clause of the federal Constitution but reverses the ruling that regulations issued by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) were within the Agency's authority under the Act. The Act establishes a comprehensive program under which the MPCA may review new packaging designs and materials within 120 days after they are introduced into state commerce. If, after holding a public hearing, the Agency decides to ban a new package from commerce and that decision is not vetoed by the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, the ban is effective until the last day of the next following legislative session. If by that time the ban is not enacted into law by the state legislature, it lapses. The court finds that the statute does not violate the Commerce Clause because it does not discriminate against out-of-state businesses, it is aimed at legitimate state objectives, and any burdens which the measure poses upon interstate commerce are greatly outweighed by its benefits in terms of improvement in solid waste management activities and environmental quality. The court declares that the MPCA's implementing regulations are not unduly vague despite the fact that they define in only general terms the criteria by which the acceptability of packages are to be determined. However, to the extent the regulations claim to have the force and effect of law, they exceed the authority given the Agency by the legislature. The court declares that the regulations are to be construed only to have the effect of guidelines, but it upholds them in all other respects.

Counsel for Appellants
John M. Mason, Peter S. Hendrixson
Dorsey, Windhorst, Hannaford, Whitney & Halladay
2300 1st Nat'l Bank Bldg., Minneapolis MN 55402
(612) 340-2600

C. Lee Cook, Jr., John C. Berghoff, Jr.
Chadwell, Kayser, Ruggles, McGee & Hastings
8500 Sears Tower, 233 S. Wacker Dr., Chicago IL 60606
(312) 876-2100

Counsel for Respondents
Warrent Spannaus, Attorney General; Richard G. Allyn, Solicitor General; Eldon G. Kaul, Ass't Attorney General; Stephen F. Befort, Jocelyn Furtwangler Olson, Special Ass't Attorneys General
102 State Capitol, St. Paul MN 55155
(612) 296-2591

Counsel for Amicus Curiae Sierra Club
Janice Symchych, Stephen J. Snyder
300 Roanoke Bldg., Minneapolis MN 55414
(612) 335-9501

Peterson, J. (joined by Schultz, J.)

MR. JUSTICE OTIS took no part in the consideration or decision of this decision.